Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Equality is a long time coming

Equality - it's still a long time coming and particularly in the small pond that is English poetry where the shortlists, the prizes and the jobs are rather unevenly doled out to the boys.

So I think we should stop skirting around the edges, of worrying about what voicing an opinion will do to our prospects, or of being seen as embittered hags.

It is, in fact, our responsibility to speak out......

Here is the life-affirming raison d'etre of the new Equality and Human Rights Commission, from its own website:

"The Equality and Human Rights Commission is charged by law with a vital mandate. To protect individuals against discrimination, to enforce the laws on equality and to promote fairness and human rights for everyone."

And there's an interesting theme on the title page: Fairer Britain.

It states: "We focus on the need, for all who live in Britain, to have a deeper sense of commitment and mutual respect based on shared values with fairness at their core. We see our role as helping people who might not otherwise meet to get to know and understand one another better.

"Equality isn’t a minority interest: a fairer society benefits everyone in terms of economic prosperity, quality of life and good relations within and among communities.

"The responsibility for building a successful society rests with all of us."

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Dark Night of the Soul


Saints are everywhere in France and Spain. They lurk by the roadside, have shrines in the most unlikely places - pre-industrial revolution celebs, I guess, providing the drama, violence and suffering we seem to need as a species. Amado makes links between Catholic saints and a more animistic spirit world. I've always been fascinated by this duality in St John of the Cross and this interest has come back to me again. But why, an unbeliever, can't I ignore him?
The writer of that familiiar phrase 'dark night of the soul' which has endured for centuries, a man who re-wrote psalm 137 By the Waters of Babylon, was born in June 1542 and with St Teresa of Avila, formed the barefoot Carmelites. John was 27 years younger than Teresa but only outlived her by nine years. Despite constant illness, she lived to 67 and died in one of her own convents in 1582. John died in 1591. Both are renowned for their mysticism.
I wonder if I was reminded of him by Kapoor? John of the Cross, in Dark Night of the Soul, suggests the soul must empty itself of self to be filled with God. It is reminiscent of Kapoor's interest in nothingness and maybe my recent immersion has revived the old fascination with this Spanish mystic who so angered the Inquisition.